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Best Tips for Cooking on the Road

Old 12-06-20, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
While I greatly prefer cooking off the road, if you insist, make sure the traffic is light and keep a sharp lookout for oncoming vehicles.
gold star awarded.
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Old 12-06-20, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
Spices. Oh, and of course a little knowledge of how to use them to advantage.

They can turn the bland gleanings from a rural 7-11 into an appealing, tasty meal. They pack very small and very light. They aren't fussy about travel or storage conditions. They're a reason the Dutch risk life and fortune to sail around the African Cape in tiny wooden ships 400 years ago. It's the reason Paul Muad'Dib went to Arrakis.

Hmm. What else? Label anything you repackage.
I reckon I read that in maybe 75 or beforeish when quite young, and still remember being transported into that utterly fascinating world he created.
Fascinating to see its lasting influence even now in The Mandalorian, 55 years on.
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Old 12-06-20, 05:18 PM
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No, not splitting hairs at all, staehpj1, I was just a little sloppy. You are correct that I meant any camping away from established sites. Another advantage of dispersed and improvised sites is a lower incidence of dog feces.
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Old 12-07-20, 06:50 AM
  #54  
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Since this thread has morphed into a food storage discussion since I last saw it, I'll weigh in. According to a personal straw poll, more food has been invaded, and more damage done, by mice than by bears.


My personal record includes a pack, food bag, and camp towel ruined by a nasty little ermine in the Rockies, and a food bag and several food containers (remember those refillable tubes for PB&J?) chewed apart by ravens in the US San Juan Islands. Both of those were in daylight, during short stops for a break, with me less than twenty feet away for a few minutes to get some water. My best friend got a hole chewed in his tent, while he was in it and awake, by mice going after an empty cookie box. I once set a bag of tortillas down behind me for a few seconds as I packed, and when I picked it up, it had a small hole chewed it. I've learned to never leave my food unguarded, or unattended, even for "just a sec."

All of those experiences were in well-pounded camp or picnic sites, as frequently seen on most bike tours. I'm a little less vigilant on hiking trips in the back country.

I've heard credible first-hand reports of some very aggressive bears. One was a guy on the PCT, coyote camping with his head on his food bag, and a bear took it out from under his head as he slept. Another, also on the PCT, had her bear container open right beside her, and a bear reached in from behind her to grab something out of it.
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Old 12-07-20, 10:42 AM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
...
I've heard credible first-hand reports of some very aggressive bears. One was a guy on the PCT, coyote camping with his head on his food bag, and a bear took it out from under his head as he slept. Another, also on the PCT, had her bear container open right beside her, and a bear reached in from behind her to grab something out of it.
This reminded me of a kayak trip I had on the Apostle Islands. I was in a campsite, organizing some food in the steel bear locker, and I noticed a bear maybe 100 to 150 feet away that was foraging in the brush, and then I noticed a bear cub was near it. I hurried up and locked the food locker, kept watching the bears. The large bear stood up, looked like it was taking a good sniff of the air, and then both bears started to forage further and further from the campsite until out of sight. Several hours later, I saw one of the park service rangers and I congratulated him on how well trained their bears were and described what I saw. He asked if the bear had a tag on each ear, I said yes. He said he knew which one it was, they had moved that bear a few times already. Apparently that bear was learning that if it gets too close to camp that it will get tranquilized and relocated, which it apparently did not like.
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Old 12-08-20, 08:04 AM
  #56  
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While the recent posts have been nice, I will try to steer the post back a little towards food tips.

1) If you an egg person on a remote route, consider powdered eggs. Though not as good, they are not bad and are easy to make. Has a scrambled egg consistency.
2) If you like to partake of libations occasionally, consider a mini-liquor or mini-wine bottle. They typically hold 1 drink serving, bottles are lightweight plastic, and do not take up much space at all.
3) Use "real" bacon bits as a bacon substitute. They are typically found in the salad dressing aisle.
4) Minute rice is pretty good substitute for real rice if you are tired of ramen.
5) Individually-wrapped cheese keep pretty well for a few days if not in hot conditions.
6) Use butter flakes as a lightweight (and almost as good) substitute for real butter.
7) Snag the individual packets of mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, jelly, and peanut butter at restaurants when possible. I ask the owner if I can buy a handful or two and if they do not give it to me, it is only a dollar or two. Much better than carrying a bulky larger, half-used jar the entire time.
8) Most "dollar stores" now carry frozen dinners. If the campground has a microwave, you can get your "Hungry Man" (ugh) cheaply and quickly.
9) Use re-hydrated water when possible, the de-hydrated stuff isn't very good, if you can find it. If you do, let me know where you got it.
10) The dish scrubbers and regular wash clothes by Lunatec are absolutely fantastic. Super light, durable, dry very quickly. Their towel is more of a large washcloth but still great as a wash cloth.
11) If only needing extra water infrequently, just use empty soda or Gatorade bottles. Lightweight and when you are done needing to carry extra water or need a clean one, you just trash the bottles.
12) If you have several food items or extra water bottles that won't fit inside a pannier, just place inside a shirt, knot up the shirt openings, and strap the "package" to the your bike somewhere.
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Old 12-08-20, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by TulsaJohn View Post
While the recent posts have been nice, I will try to steer the post back a little towards food tips.
...
9) Use re-hydrated water when possible, the de-hydrated stuff isn't very good, if you can find it. If you do, let me know where you got it.
....
Ok. You convinced me, no more dehydrated water.
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Old 12-08-20, 09:35 AM
  #58  
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Just seeing who actually reads it
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Old 12-08-20, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by TulsaJohn View Post
Just seeing who actually reads it
It worked.
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Old 12-08-20, 11:48 AM
  #60  
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I'm parched just thinking about it.
and no, I didn't catch it....
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Old 12-08-20, 05:35 PM
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Cous-cous is my go to for dinner's carbohydrates because it cooks so quickly, thus conserving fuel. But I have cooked other pastas quickly by pre-soaking them for a few hours, it worked fine.
If you can't find real bacon bits, you can make them. Cut a bunch of small slices off the end of a package of bacon, then dice the slices. Fry that up, and drain it. It will keep for months in a plastic bag in the freezer, and for a few days at room temp, or pannier temp.
There are some dried fruit bars called "That's It" that are palatable. The one I'm looking at is 1.2 oz. (35 gm) and contains one apple and ten cherries. They make a good snack.
Chocolate, nice as it is, tends to melt in even moderate temps, if the sun hits the bag it is in.
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Old 12-09-20, 12:19 PM
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My best single tip is get a Sigg Tourist cook kit, with or without the Svea 123. You can put the pots on any stove you like. I bought my kit new in 1966 at Sporthaus Schuster in Munich. It's still what we use for both backpacking and bike touring. It's a little bulky but if you enjoy real meals outdoors, it's the Only Thing. https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...&_sacat=159043

For decades we used it with the Svea, though it now sits on an Optimus Nova. The polished Svea is now a decoration. The Nova is a little more versatile and very little heavier. Either stove fits inside the cook kit.

The complete set is a Svea 123, a 1.5 liter pot, a 2 liter pot, a lid which fits both pots and is also a pan, a base for the Svea, a windscreen between base and pot, pot lifters and a strap to hold it all together. The whole thing can stack to become a double boiler plus a water heating pan. Also works with a Primus No.71.

We wrote a camping cookbook for outdoor travel based on this cook kit.
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Old 12-09-20, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
My best single tip is get a Sigg Tourist cook kit, with or without the Svea 123. You can put the pots on any stove you like. I bought my kit new in 1966 at Sporthaus Schuster in Munich. It's still what we use for both backpacking and bike touring. It's a little bulky but if you enjoy real meals outdoors, it's the Only Thing. https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...&_sacat=159043

For decades we used it with the Svea, though it now sits on an Optimus Nova. The polished Svea is now a decoration. The Nova is a little more versatile and very little heavier. Either stove fits inside the cook kit.

The complete set is a Svea 123, a 1.5 liter pot, a 2 liter pot, a lid which fits both pots and is also a pan, a base for the Svea, a windscreen between base and pot, pot lifters and a strap to hold it all together. The whole thing can stack to become a double boiler plus a water heating pan. Also works with a Primus No.71.

We wrote a camping cookbook for outdoor travel based on this cook kit.
I went to that Ebay link and I clicked on completed listings to see what they sold for in the past. I had no idea that my Sigg Tourist was worth that much.

The Primus 71 had a smaller diameter tank, that does not fit well in the Tourist windscreen, the Svea was held in much better with those two riveted clips but they do not grip the 71.

If you are not using the Svea, I think the MSR Alpine 2 pot kit which is stainless steel and lacks the pot supports that the Sigg has might be a better cookset than the Sigg Tourist. At least I have that preference when cooking for two or three people.

The last time I cooked on a Svea, I actually used the MSR Alpine kit even though I still have my Sigg Tourist.
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Old 12-09-20, 01:04 PM
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One thing about camp cooking, do not be afraid to be innovative. This was not a bad mix. A packet of flavored rice and a can of chili for two people.





Since I used the flash on the camera, it must have been late in the day, so probably was starving when I ate.
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Old 12-09-20, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I went to that Ebay link and I clicked on completed listings to see what they sold for in the past. I had no idea that my Sigg Tourist was worth that much.

The Primus 71 had a smaller diameter tank, that does not fit well in the Tourist windscreen, the Svea was held in much better with those two riveted clips but they do not grip the 71.

If you are not using the Svea, I think the MSR Alpine 2 pot kit which is stainless steel and lacks the pot supports that the Sigg has might be a better cookset than the Sigg Tourist. At least I have that preference when cooking for two or three people.

The last time I cooked on a Svea, I actually used the MSR Alpine kit even though I still have my Sigg Tourist.
Well, that's probably how much they've always been worth. I don't remember what I paid in Deutchmark, though that was back in the 4 marks/dollar days when everything in Europe was cheap for Amis. I had a look at manufacturing costs, but off the scale for such a limited production item.

Agree about the Primus. Works, but not as good. I don't care for SS cookware because the heat distribution is not as good as with aluminum. Except of course for home cookware where SS has a heavy aluminum bottom. Same issue with Ti, plus Ti stuff is so thin.
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Old 12-10-20, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
One thing about camp cooking, do not be afraid to be innovative. This was not a bad mix. A packet of flavored rice and a can of chili for two people.





Since I used the flash on the camera, it must have been late in the day, so probably was starving when I ate.
Pasta, canned chili and canned mushrooms back in September. Slim pickings at the tiny dollar store, but it wasn’t that bad. Coldish, damp conditions made hot food tastier.


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Old 12-10-20, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
My best single tip is get a Sigg Tourist cook kit, with or without the Svea 123.
What is the difference between the Sigg and a Trangia? They seem fairly similar so why not just buy a Trangia if they are less expensive?
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Old 12-10-20, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by TulsaJohn View Post
What is the difference between the Sigg and a Trangia? They seem fairly similar so why not just buy a Trangia if they are less expensive?
Do whatever you want. I admit to mostly buying high-end gear and keeping it for decades. I like the secure stacking system of the Tourist kit. It's one of those things you use for decades and can't think of an improvement. My wife and I would like a lighter, slightly smaller system and we've looked and looked but never saw anything even vaguely as good.
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Old 12-10-20, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Do whatever you want. I admit to mostly buying high-end gear and keeping it for decades. I like the secure stacking system of the Tourist kit. It's one of those things you use for decades and can't think of an improvement. My wife and I would like a lighter, slightly smaller system and we've looked and looked but never saw anything even vaguely as good.
OK, but what is the difference. Like you, I like quality but I want to understand what makes it quality. Is it only the stacking system or what.?
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Old 12-10-20, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by TulsaJohn View Post
What is the difference between the Sigg and a Trangia? They seem fairly similar so why not just buy a Trangia if they are less expensive?
I think part of the problem was that the Svea had a very small sized pot support, not much different than some of the smaller butane stoves today. And it had virtually no wind protection. So, the Sigg Tourist pot supports replaced the Svea pot support and provided extremely stable support with reasonable wind protection. And the pots could not slide off of the Sigg pot supports. Big improvement.

And at that time, there were very few good stoves on the market for backpacking. It pretty much was the Svea, Optimus 8R, or the more rare Phoebus (I think the number was 725?). There were a few other derivations on the Primus/Optimus list, the Primus 71, the Optimus 99, etc. If you wanted Butane, there was the Gaz Bluet with the puncture containers, but that was not very popular where I lived, not good in cold and terrible in wind.

The Sigg Tourist was the only cooking kit that was specifically designed for one of those common stoves. And it was extremely well thought out and very light.

I am not familiar with the Trangia system. But in the 1970s, the Sigg Tourist was the clear winner for a small cook kit. I still have a Sigg Tourist but have not used it for at least a decade. My Svea, the last trip I used that on was in 2014 when I backpacked Grand Canyon.

I am not saying the Sigg Tourist had a cult following, but a lot of people were really happy after they bought it.
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Old 12-10-20, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by TulsaJohn View Post
OK, but what is the difference. Like you, I like quality but I want to understand what makes it quality. Is it only the stacking system or what.?
Yeah, it's too bad you can't compare them in a store. You could buy one of the used kits and resell it if you thought the Trangia superior after being able to compare them. I like the whole concept of stacking, one tight fitting lid fits both pots, the thickness of the pots.

Today almost no one actually cooks in the back country. Most folks use a Jetboil: heat water, add whatever, spoon it out. It's all about speed, not so much about quality time there and when back packing, light food is the thing. We still use light food when backpacking with our kit, but we make fancy, yummy meals, similar to what we eat at home. Light food doesn't have to be freeze dried. So for us, that's what the kit is all about, fun time in camp and delicious food.

Bike touring, we don't carry much food, just spices, a bit of flour, oil, and the like. We eat grocery story stuff, which also works well with the kit. So say you make a sauce from scratch, put it on top while you boil the pasta, tea water up on level 3, then put the pasta in the sauce pot and the tea water into the pasta pot with some extra water and steep. After tea, use the leftover tea to quick-clean the pots.
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Old 12-10-20, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Today almost no one actually cooks in the back country. Most folks use a Jetboil: heat water, add whatever, spoon it out.
Bikepacking (not the kind where you go cycletouring using backpacking bags, but the kind where you're riding tracks through wilderness areas, away from civilization for some days) food prep is probably more like backpacking food prep. As you say, it's different from bike touring where one is daily riding through one to a half dozen cities, towns, villages, hamlets and/or crossroads-with-convenience-stores.

Hey, if there are any of those cats reading this who have youtube channels where they put a stopwatch on blast-boiling 500ml of water, well, your info is cool and all, but that's just one stove/fuel parameter mostly of primary interest to one style of camp cooking. To what extent is the stove throttleable? Can it perform a sear, then a low simmer, and then a rapid boil? Can you shut it off or do you have to wait for the fuel load to burn out? What lighting techniques work, and what lighting techniques work best? Does the burner/flame cause a hot spot or does it spread evenly? How sensitive is the stove to wind? How long after using does it take before it's cool and safe to pack? Does the stove get itself nasty or sooty or dirty in extended use? A cycletourist might ride across multiple biomes and from sea level to mountain pass elevation - is the stove under test amenable to that? Any fiddly, underdesigned parts? Is it banned from flying or from high-risk burn areas or any sensitive environmental regions? What happens if you tip the stove over while it's lit (I mean, don't do that, right, but still)?

So, yeah, I've been thinking about this because the Coleman 400A I've used for decades* has gotten very fussy and temperamental, and is long overdue for overhaul. It's with some trepidation I broach this near-religious subject, but does anyone have a modern-era cycletouring stove they'd recommend (and why does it merit recommendation)?


*And it's been half a lifetime since canisters were available in the US for my back-up Camping Gaz Bleuet 206!

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Old 12-10-20, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by TulsaJohn View Post
9) Use re-hydrated water when possible, the de-hydrated stuff isn't very good, if you can find it.
I switched to Phil's years ago. A bit pricey, but for touring, worth it.
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Old 12-10-20, 07:22 PM
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I have no experience cooking on the road, but with that in mind, I purchased the book, "Bike, Camp, Cook" from bicycletouringpro.com. It's a pretty good read, and I wish I had read it before purchasing my Ti cookware. I don't just want to boil water and add it to dehydrated food.

I also noticed that there aren't many green vegetables cooked in a lot of bicycle tourists, bikepacking, backpacking recipes. It's mostly quick carbs and some protein.
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Old 12-10-20, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
Bikepacking (not the kind where you cycletouring using backpacking bags, but the kind where you're riding tracks through wilderness areas, away from civilization for some days) food prep is probably more like backpacking food prep. As you say, it's different from bike touring where one is daily riding through one to a half dozen cities, towns, villages, hamlets and/or crossroads-with-convenience-stores.

Hey, if there are any of those cats reading this who have youtube channels where they put a stopwatch on blast-boiling 500ml of water, well, your info is cool and all, but that's just one stove/fuel parameter mostly of primary interest to one style of camp cooking. To what extent is the stove throttleable? Can it perform a sear, then a low simmer, and then a rapid boil? Can you shut it off or do you have to wait for the fuel load to burn out? What lighting techniques work, and what lighting techniques work best? Does the burner/flame cause a hot spot or does it spread evenly? How sensitive is the stove to wind? How long after using does it take before it's cool and safe to pack? Does the stove get itself nasty or sooty or dirty in extended use? A cycletourist might ride across multiple biomes and from sea level to mountain pass elevation - is the stove under test amenable to that? Any fiddly, underdesigned parts? Is it banned from flying or from high-risk burn areas or any sensitive environmental regions? What happens if you tip the stove over while it's lit (I mean, don't do that, right, but still)?

So, yeah, I've been thinking about this because the Coleman 400A I've used for decades* has gotten very fussy and temperamental, and is long overdue for overhaul. It's with some trepidation I broach this near-religious subject, but does anyone have a modern-era cycletouring stove they'd recommend (and why does it merit recommendation)?

*And it's been half a lifetime since canisters were available in the US for my back-up Camping Gaz Bleuet 206!
Good points/questions. The best stove solution I've found is the Optimus Nova. It does everything well, and it has a metal pump, which I like. It's easily field-serviced. It comes with a flexible SS windscreen that will go around most any pot. The pump has a nice feature where you turn the bottle over to clear the line and stove of gas before turning the stove off. If you'll use it again in the morning, you don't do that, just turn the valve. It boils water OK, nothing spectacular. It simmers fine, though like all these small stoves it only heats a small circle on simmer, so one has to be careful and stir. We usually wash our cook gear in the morning. The stove'll be cool long before we need to pack it into the pans we just washed. No soot or dirt, etc., either on the stove or pans. We burn Coleman fuel in it. For 10 days, we take a liter bottle 3/4 full plus a full pint bottle. We cook most of our breakfasts and all of our dinners and tend to be a bit elaborate. Others might use less fuel. I can't imagine anyone would use more.

To light it, one turns the fuel on until one sees a bit of fuel appear in the bottom of the stove, then immediately turn the fuel off and light the stove. As it heats, gradually introduce fuel again until you get the nice blue flame. It's a bit of a trick to use the minimal amount of priming fuel, a trick that's quickly perfected.

AFAIK, the stove does not have an altitude limit. It's supposed to be a multi-fuel expedition stove, though I've never tried it with anything but Coleman fuel. It's not banned from high risk burn areas. Some airlines say that they ban all gas stoves which are not new and boxed. However, we have flown with ours several times, both nationally and internationally. The surest thing is to run the stove through a dishwasher if possible. Fill the fuel bottle with a vinegar solution and tape a VINEGAR label on it. Before we had the Optimus, we had our Svea confiscated once. It has a wick in it though, so we couldn't get rid of the smell even though we filled the stove with water.
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